Neighborhood Bridges

Neighborhood Bridges is a nationally recognized literacy program using storytelling and creative drama to help children develop their critical literacy skills and to transform them into storytellers of their own lives. Our skilled teaching artists animate learning and transform classrooms into communities where students think independently and work collectively. Founded in 1997 by Peter Brosius, artistic director of the Children's Theatre Company of Minneapolis, and Jack Zipes, Professor of German and Comparative Literature at the University of Minnesota, the program collaborates with Twin Cities area classrooms and reaches over 500 students.

Neighborhood Bridges addresses state and national language arts standards. As a recipient of the Arts in Education Model Development and Dissemination (AEMDD) grant, Neighborhood Bridges is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as a national model for arts education.

  • Guiding Philosophy
  • Partner Schools
  • Impact and Outcomes
  • Teaching Artists
  • Breck School Partnership
Implicit in all the work of Neighborhood Bridges is a remark made by the renowned psychologist Jerome Bruner:
"I conceive of schools and preschools as serving a renewed function within our changing societies. This entails building school cultures that operate as mutual communities of learners, involved jointly in solving problems with all contributing to the process of educating one another."

Check out this article about the work of Neighborhood Bridges in the Twin Cities metro area.

Read more about the guiding principles behind Neighborhood Bridges:


This school year, Neighborhood Bridges is partnering with 25 classrooms at 11 schools in the Twin Cities Metro Area.

Jefferson Community School - 3rd grade
Lyndale Community School - 3rd grade
Marcy Open School - 5th & 6th grades
Richard R. Green Central Park School - 4th grade
Sheridan Arts Magnet - 5th grade

Adams Spanish Immersion Magnet - 5th grade
Eastern Heights Elementary School - 3rd grade
Jackson Preparatory Magnet - 4th grade

Garlough Environmental Magnet - 3rd & 4th grades
Moreland Arts & Health Sciences Magnet - 3rd & 4th grades

Lincoln Elementary School - 3rd-5th grades

National Partners

National partners have completed training with CTC teaching artists and staff. If you are interested in learning more about Neighborhood Bridges training opportunities, please contact our office.

San Francisco State University (CA)
Mo’olelo Performing Arts Company (San Diego, CA)
Denver Center for the Performing Arts (CO)
University of Northern Colorado (Greeley, CO)
Honolulu Theatre for Youth (HI)
Adventure Stage Chicago (IL)
Fulton Opera House (Lancaster, PA)
Yocum Institute for Arts Education (Reading, PA)
Children’s Theatre of Charlotte (Charlotte, NC)
East Tennessee State University (Johnson City, TN)
Children’s Music Workshop (Benton Harbor, MI)
The Performing Arts Center at SUNY (Purchase, NY)


The impact of the Bridges program is assessed by formal student and teacher evaluations conducted by the University of Minnesota’s Center for Applied Research and Educational Improvement (CAREI).

The impact of Bridges was particularly evident among English Language Learners: 15% more of these students met or exceeded state standards in the 2007 MCA reading test when compared to ELL students who had not been in Bridges.

Exceeding goal, 100% of 2nd and 3rd grade students and 97% of 4th-6th graders who participated in Bridges in 2011-2012 met the benchmark for student achievement in writing.

Students also notice changes in themselves: 91% of students in grades 4 through 6 responded agree or strongly agree for “From the beginning of the year until now I’ve gotten better at writing stories.” 92% of students in grades 2 and 3 marked yes when asked if they were a better writer.

Full reports are available on the CAREI website: http:// For the outcomes measured by the University of Minnesota’s Center for Early Education & Development (CEED) for the Early Bridges program, click here.
Sandy Agustin
Maria Asp
Rachel Austin Bernstein
Maliya Gorman Carter
Nicolas Carter
Paul de Cordova
Annie Enneking
Tessa Flynn
Brian Grandison
Chris Griffith
Julie Smith Healey
Matt Jenson
Anton Jones
Leif Jurgensen
Derek Phillips
Aaron J. Radatz
Russell Rathbun
Jay Scoggin
Kiyoko Motoyama Sims
Alejandra Tobar-Alatriz
Emily Zimmer

After a year of planning, Breck School has formally joined hands with the Children's Theatre Neighborhood Bridges Program. Fifteen Breck upper school students in grades 10, 11 and 12 are enrolled in a year-long class called "Performance and Social Change", which is a high-school version of the course of the same name taught at the University of Minnesota by Maria Asp, the Head of Neighborhood Bridges, and Professor Sonja Kuftinec of the U. of M. Theatre Department.

On Wednesday mornings, the Breck PSC students are to be found in the three third-grade classrooms of Lyndale Elementary School in South Minneapolis. Under the guidance of three Neighborhood Bridges Teaching Artists, they become co-facilitators of the Bridges critical literacy curriculum as high school interns. This is all done under the auspices of CTC, and in collaboration with the Breck School Service Learning Program, which has been in place since 1995. Nature is our greatest ally in this enterprise - the amity and joy of older and younger children creating together is as undeniable as it is irrepressible.

I was thirty years into my tenure as Director of Drama at Breck when luck and timing put me in a position where all of this suddenly became possible. I had only to say yes and follow through. I never imagined that such an incredible opportunity would be made available to me and to my students in the twilight of my teaching career. Instead of taking a victory lap, I would be granted a sabbatical and become a student again. Taken under the wings of teachers many years my junior, my old eyes would be re-opened, not unlike Ebenezer Scrooge's were. I would learn that I could still become a real agent for social change myself, and not just another well-meaning observer on the sidelines wishing the next generation well.

Every good play has a third-act surprise... something that the audience didn't see coming, but has them walking three blocks in the wrong direction after the curtain rings down. I certainly got my third-act surprise, thanks to a phone call from a friend that led to an audience with Mr. Peter Brosius. Now I have a rich legacy to leave behind, and my fondest hope is that the high point of the new CTC/Breck partnership will come many years after I am gone.

Tom Hegg, Director of Drama, Breck School

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